Nottinghamshire Police has become the first force in the country to appoint a dedicated dog theft lead.
Chief inspector Amy Styles-Jones has been appointed as dog theft lead in Nottinghamshire Police, while chief constable Craig Guildford said the move to introduce the specialist officer should “send a clear message that this type of crime would not be tolerated”.
The move comes after a survey revealed dog owners are increasingly fearful over their pets’ safety as cases of dog theft have risen across the country during the pandemic.
Nottinghamshire’s deputy police and crime commissioner (DPPC) Emma Foody, who launched the survey, confirmed that there will be a renewed focus on safety advice for owners, with new video guidance from Nottinghamshire Police’s Dog Section advising owners how to keep their pet safe.
In addition, a ‘Canine Coalition’ will be launched, with dog welfare organisations working together to “tackle the scourge of theft and demand Government action on tougher sentences”.
Foody said: “I’m delighted that Nottinghamshire has become the first force in the country to appoint a dog theft lead. There is growing alarm – both locally and nationally – over the threat of dog theft. This has been fuelled by a number of distressing incidents which have eroded public confidence.
“I’m incredibly grateful for the support of Guide Dogs for the Blind in helping us highlight how serious this issue is, and I’m keen to work with other organisations to do whatever we can to prevent dog theft in the future and disrupt the lucrative market that has emerged during the national lockdowns.”
She added: “As a dog owner myself, I know just how worrying this issue is, and I’m determined to fight for tougher penalties for those involved in this despicable crime.”
Guildford added: “Firstly, it’s important to reassure local residents that we have not seen a significant spike in dog theft in Nottinghamshire. However, we obviously want to keep it that way, and give our dog owners confidence that we are taking the matter seriously.
“That’s why I felt it was important to have a senior officer to lead on this. We want to prevent dogs being stolen in the first place, with the heartbreaking stress and trauma this causes the owners, and will be working hard to spread those messages.”
“Secondly I want to send a clear message to those who seek to carry out this cold-hearted crime that it will not be tolerated, it is taken very seriously and we will come after you.”